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Food Addiction, | 11.11.21

What are the warning signs that you need more support?

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to their relationship with food is not noticing or responding to the warning signs that they need more support. 

Eating disorders and addictions have a funny way of convincing us that everything is “okay.” You know what I mean? Just one bite- It’s okay. It’s no big deal! I’ll get back on tomorrow. It’s a special occasion so just this once. I don’t need to worry because I still feel in control. Maybe I don’t have a problem anymore. The things that we acknowledged last week as BIG BIG problems suddenly seem less of a big deal or excusable for one reason or another.

The truth about why this phenomenon happens is that our brain hates discomfort. And acknowledging that something is wrong or that we’re struggling AND that we might have to do something about it is uncomfortable to say the least. Our perception changes when we’re hit with cravings and uncomfortable emotions because it’s much easier to reach for food to “solve” our problems than it is to take a step back and sit with the discomfort of tolerating a difficult moment.

So what do I do?

Admitting that these shrugged-off warning signs are actually a big deal is the first step to tackling the issue head one. Because if we notice what’s happening and have a reference point for where that warning sign takes us, we can steer in a different direction more quickly the next time we find ourselves struggling. Let’s say, for example, the BLTs (Bites, Licks, and Tastes) after work are a predictable warning sign that your relationship with food is getting into tricky territory. Normally when the BLTs come up, you’re quick to justify your behavior by saying it’s “No big deal, I’ve had a stressful day. I deserve it.” However this time, you’re going to head into your day with awareness that one bite, leads to two bites, leads to a sleeve of cookies, a pint of ice cream, you know the rest. Instead, when you catch yourself snacking and trying to justify your behavior, you’ll declare to yourself loudly and proudly THIS IS A BIG DEAL and call up a friend or accountability partner right away to get more support.

So here’s the task- make a list of all your red flags (or even orange flags) that signal to you that you need more support or coping skills ASAP! While you can add to this list as you learn and grow in your relationship with food, this will serve as a starting point to get your radar on high alert!

The Most Common Traps We Fall Into

As you make your list of warning signs, it’s helpful to consider a few usual traps. Because while everyone has different indicators that they need more support, there’s a few extremely common ones that are worth mentioning. They include:

  • Negotiating your meal times 
  • Adding food onto your plate after you’ve already eaten or going back for “seconds”
  • Eating snack food out of a large or family size container
  • Eating food while standing up or mindlessly
  • Eating food with urgency out of the fridge or pantry
  • Going to a convenience store or grocery shopping when you have cravings
  • Making plans to eat at a restaurant that has your “favorite” triggering food
  • Snacking on appetizers before the meal arrives
  • Not checking in with your accountability partner or coach
  • Saying “It’s no big deal,” “Just this one,” or “It’s a special occasion”
  • Justifying your eating behavior even though you committed to a different plan of eating
  • Not telling other people our eating preferences
  • Saying “yes” to food because we don’t want to disappoint someone else
  • Telling yourself “I’ve been good. I deserve it.”
  • Telling yourself “I’ll feel deprived if I say no.”

The list goes on….

Knowledge is power. By calling out these red flags for what they are, you’re better set up to intervene with coping skills and extra support. 

Want more support? Check out Molly’s youtube channel and subscribe to the Sunday Love Letter to get support, information, and motivation on your journey to create a loving relationship with food. 

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

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